9 Things to Know About Colds and the Flu

catching the flu

After getting sick several times, people may think they know all the facts about cold and flu viruses.

But a Prevention article reports nine things most people don’t know:

  1. The flu vaccine won’t make you sick – People commonly believe they can get the flu from the flu shot, but that’s a myth. Health experts say the vaccine doesn’t contain live flu virus. However, after getting a flu shot, you may experience nausea, fatigue, and achiness, as your body produces antibodies to fight the virus.
  2. Flu vaccines are all the same – The flu shot offered at the doctor’s office is the same vaccine available at a grocery store pharmacy. Many retail stores offer discounts or coupons with a flu shot purchase, so shop around for the best deal.
  3. The flu doesn’t affect people every year – Health experts say that on average over a 10-year period, most people will get the flu only twice. Antibodies in the immune system remember flu strains, preventing people from getting the flu each year. Getting an annual flu shot also helps build long-term immunity.
  4. It’s possible to know when the flu may hit – Infectious disease experts at Columbia University developed an interactive map of the United States that shows active cases of the flu and predicts where it will spread.
  5. It’s possible to beat a cold virus – The common cold is caused by a rhinovirus that settles in nasal passages, where temperatures can be 7 degrees cooler than other areas of the body. Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine believe that when the weather turns colder, the rhinovirus reproduces rapidly. Health experts recommend that when outside temperatures turn cold, get more sleep, exercise frequently and eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to fight germs.
  6. Pets can’t get the adult flu – Pets cannot get the flu from their owners, only from other dogs and cats.
  7. Adults cannot catch the flu from dogs – Although pet owners cannot get the flu from their dogs, other household pets, such as cats, guinea pigs and ferrets, are at increased risk.
  8. Dogs need flu shots – According to National Public Radio, a strain of canine flu from Korea is spreading rapidly across the country, infecting dogs and cats. Most pets experience only mild respiratory problems. However, since the canine flu is highly contagious, pets that regularly visit a kennel facility should be given a flu vaccine.
  9. The flu vaccine may change – Researchers are working on a new flu vaccine, capable of fighting most virus strains, to replace the annual flu shot. Hopefully it will be available within the next five to seven years.